New Study Finds Link Between Lung Cancer and Estrogen
A new study presented on the 3rd of April reveals that there is a link between lung cancer and estrogen levels. The study, presented at the annual American Association for Cancer Research meeting points out to new possible therapies against lung cancer that would involve targeting the metabolism of estrogen.
Scientists have discovered through the use of laboratory mice that the metabolism of estrogen results into toxic compounds in the lungs of mice. After further exposing the mice to tobacco smoke, scientists found that the quantity of these toxic compounds increased. Author of the study, Jing Peng, says that these results will help find new lung cancer medication that would suppress the formation of these toxic metabolites.
It’s been known for a long time that tobacco smoke is the main risk factor of lung cancer. However, recent studies show that another important risk factor could be estrogen. If a link between estrogen and lung cancer is found in future studies it wouldn’t be the first form of cancer that estrogen is connected to – already being known that estrogen plays an important role in breast cancer and other gynecological cancers as well.
The research team, lead by Jing Peng and Margie Clapper, found high levels of 4 hydroxy-estrogens, a known carcinogenic metabolite of estrogen, in the lungs of healthy examined laboratory mice. These metabolites have been previously found to influence the growth of cancerous cells and are involved in the generation of free radicals (molecules that are harmful to cells).
Researchers tested the levels of 4 hydroxy-estrogens (4-OHEs) again after exposing the laboratory mice to tobacco smoke for 2 months. They discovered that the levels of 4-OHEs increased. This result indicates that these carcinogenic metabolites could influence the destruction of cells and could be beneficial to the appearance of lung cancer.
Through the study it has also been found that the levels of 4-OHEs in female mice was almost double compared to the levels of 4-OHEs found in male mice. Margie Clapper notes that it has not been established whether these levels would be the same in humans, as most lung cancer cases for non-smokers appear in men, not women.
The leading authors believe that the results of their study will be helpful for further research in the area of lung cancer medication. Numerous patients have already enrolled in clinical trials in order to test the effect of anti-estrogen drugs on lung cancer.
“We believe that levels of these toxic estrogen metabolites may one day be useful in predicting a person’s lung cancer risk or prognosis”, said Jing Peng.